Jan Garbarek's elegiac saxophone meditations on ECM are well known. Like oudist Anouar Brahem, Garbarek's uncanny knack for simple but memorable melancholy melodies set in sparse surroundings knows how to achieve maximum impact with minimal ingredients. In Praise of Dreams once again teams him with drummer Manu Katché and adds Kim Kashkashian on viola. I heard this album during the Polish Audio Show and subsequently spotted it at an Empik record store a few blocks from the Warsaw show venue.
Saying that Dreams doesn't break new ground is as deliberately blasé as Bond hissing "I don't give a shit" when asked whether he fancied his martini shaken or stirred. You buy Garbarek because he remains, recognizably, Garbarek. Anything less would disappoint. And Dreams is vintage Garbarek at his finest.
As is customary, there's just a modicum of electronica for ambience - looped drums, patched samples. The moods are down tempo all, the melodies cyclical to return on themselves, the overriding theme evocative aural poetry, sketching stark landscapes, aerial views, conversations with a stone, scenes from afar, knots of place and time. These latter are actual track titles.
The special magic of this music is that it very quickly casts its spell, imposes its own climate. Once entered, you don't want it to end. Stately hymns, spiraling instrumental songs above drone-like pedals or tribal drum grooves, instrumental call-and-answer dialogues - it's a world of bluish mists and spells like the legends of Scotland. And unlike on others, every single track here is solid gold. It's what I call music for rainy afternoons; when day dreams stand in for physical activity and going elsewhere while staying dry and cozy is on the menu. Isn't it fitting then that the album is called In Praise of Dreams?